Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)

Album: Fantastic (1982)
Charted: 8

Songfacts®:

  • The first Wham! single was indeed a rap, with George Michael busting rhymes about the joys of unemployment (Michael worked an array of odd jobs; his Wham!-mate Andrew Ridgely really was unemployed). It didn't get far in America but launched them in the UK, where it climbed to #8 and earned them lots of press attention.
  • According to Rob Jovanovic in his 2007 biography of George Michael, the song "depicted the world as they saw it" although it was "hardly a rap as we know it today." The message is that if you're young and unemployed, have fun. Of course, most people who are faced with especially long term unemployment find life a struggle, but youthful optimism certainly paid off for this dynamic duo. David Austin and Paul Ridgeley (Andrew's brother) added backing vocals.
  • It's not clear if Wham! is named after this song, or the other way around, but they happened around the same time. George Michael and Andrew Ridgely met at school when they were 12 and formed a ska-ish band called The Executive when they were 16. When that group folded, they formed a duo and wrote "Wham Rap!," which became their first single. The punchy name framed their image as new-breed pop stars you can't ignore. It earned them a record deal with Innervisions, a new label set up by another classmate, Mark Dean.
  • Michael and Ridgely were 18 when they wrote this song, 19 when it was released in June 1982. At the time, most rap songs were lighthearted fun. The one that made it big in the UK was "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang, which went to #3 in 1979. That song is as funny as it is groundbreaking; Michael took its cue and wrote his own silly rap.

    Unlike "Rapper's Delight," "Wham Rap!" doesn't use any samples. The track is heavy on keyboards (played by their producer, Bob Carter), but also has real guitar (played by Ridgeley), bass, horns and drums.
  • George Michael got the idea for this song while listening to the group Level 42. "I thought it'd be really good to take a funk formula riff and put a really un-disco lyric to it and do a rap," he told Smash Hits. "So I made up this lyric about unemployment, played it to Andy and we took it from there."
  • The first DJ to play "Wham Rap!" on BBC Radio was Peter Powell; it was chosen by the music paper Sounds as its single of the week, but could reach only #105 on the UK chart. When it was re-issued the following January it did much better, climbing to #8.
  • There are various mixes of the song; the initial 7-inch version runs to 3 minutes 30 seconds, while the B-side which is the Club Mix runs to 4 minutes 2 seconds. The 12-inch consists of the 6 minute 46 second Social Mix and the 6 minute 36 second Unsocial Mix. (The song's sub-title does not appear on the disk). Further mixes followed for the re-release, which was put out after "Young Guns (Go For It!)," and this time the song made the Top 10, peaking at #8 in the UK singles chart and #9 in Australia. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 5th 1983, Wham! performed "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    It did not make Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart in the U.S., but did reached the Top 10 in three other countries, United Kingdom {#8}, Australia {#9}, and the Netherlands {#9}...
    Just over five months later on August 14th, 1983 the duo would enter the Top 100 for the first time when "Bad Boys" debut at #90...
    Between 1983 and 1986 they had eight Top 100 records; six made the Top 10 with half of them reaching #1, "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" for 3 weeks in 1984, "Careless Whisper" for 3 weeks in 1985, and "Everything She Wants" for 2 weeks in 1985.
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